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HITE, MORRIS LEE

HITE, MORRIS LEE (1910–1983). Morris Lee Hite, businessman, was born on November 23, 1910, in Anadarko, Oklahoma. When he was a child, his father's banking business failed, forcing the elder Hite to seek employment in Oklahoma City. Hite's mother took her young son and moved in with her parents on their farm; she died a few years later. As a youth Hite sold fruit door-to-door, then worked for the Arnette Athenaeum, a multifaceted business establishment in Norman, Oklahoma. In exchange for a half-day's work at the Athenaeum, he received tuition and board to high school. Though Hite eventually left the Athenaeum without a diploma, he did take with him a clear idea of his professional interests. It was in the library of the Athenaeum that he had discovered Printer's Ink, a handbook of advertising and the catalyst for his long and successful career in that business. After working for various firms in promotion and publicity, in 1930 Hite opened his own Oklahoma City advertising agency. His small firm prospered until the depths of the Great Depression. In 1937 he moved to Dallas, where he was hired by Ray Locke, a partner in what then was the advertising firm of Tracy-Locke-Dawson. In Dallas Hite met and married Caroline Roemer; they had five children. Hite became president of Tracy-Locke in 1950 and, with the exception of four years of service as an army officer during World War II, remained with the company until 1982. In that year Tracy-Locke joined in a merger, and Hite became president and chairman of the board of Allcom, the resulting holding company.

Hite's involvement in Dallas civic affairs was energetic and effective. As a director of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, he devised the advertising strategy that won passage in 1967 of a $175 million bond issue to finance construction of the Dallas-Fort Worth Interregional Airport (later the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airportqv). He also engineered the agreement making Dallas and Fort Worth a single Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area; sold the hotel-motel industry on a special tax to finance a $35 million convention center; organized and led the drive to establish the University of Texas at Dallas; developed a job fair offering summer employment to the city's disadvantaged youths; and led two fund drives for the local Public Broadcasting Service station, KERA-TV. Hite was a two-time president of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce. He served as head of the vestry at his Episcopal church, and as a member of the boards of the United Way and local chapters of the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. In 1970, in recognition of his civic contributions, Hite received the Linz Award, Dallas's highest honor for individual public service. Ten years later, Hite was chosen as one of twelve recipients of the national Horatio Alger Award, given annually to men and women who have risen from humble beginnings to the top in their fields. Hite was killed in a car wreck on May 1, 1983. In 1984 the Morris Hite Center for Product Development and Marketing Science, which he was helping establish at the University of Texas at Dallas at the time of his death, was named in his honor.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dallas Morning News, May 2, 1983. Russ Pate, Adman: Morris Hite's Methods for Winning the Ad Game (Dallas: E-Heart Press, 1988). Russ Pate, "The World According to Hite," Texas Business, April 1988.

Randall L. Schultz

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Randall L. Schultz, "HITE, MORRIS LEE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhi48), accessed July 30, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.